The Element of Surprise in Middle-School Football

No, this trick won’t work in the NFL, but Driscoll Middle School in Corpus Christi, Tex., pulled it off brilliantly. During a recent game, the “middle school quarterback is handed the ball at the snap in such a manner that his opponents believe the play has not begun. And the teenage player then brazenly strolls through the opposing ranks without a finger laid on him before realizing his ploy has come good.” The quarterback then takes off running all the way to the end zone.

It will probably be some time before Driscoll is able to pull off this play again. But it sure would be fun to see them try …

(HT: Christian Zeller)

David L

I've seen several similar plays in middle school/high school football on YouTube. If the opposing coach had coached his kids on what comprises a legal snap, this would have been an easy tackle for loss and likely a forced fumble. I don't know the date of the video but I'm willing to bet that for every one of these plays that works, there are many more where the playcaller ends up looking really stupid.


So much simpler just to play soccer, considerably reducing the chances of concussive brain damage as a fringe benefit.


Too bad the refs did not call the penalties that were there.

Illegal snap: Nothing wrong with over the shoulder, but Rule 2-23 Article 1.g. says " The snap need not be between the snapper's legs; but to be legal, it must be a *quick* and continuous backward motion." Nothing quick about that snap.

Illegal motion: Watch the wing player on the left (#34?) right before the snap. He begins to stand up. While a single backfield player may be in motion prior to the snap, he cannot feign the start of a play (Rule 7-1)


Driscoll's mascot? "The Defenders."
I chuckled.

Disgruntled Dan

These plays have been online for a while. Bottom line. If it's legal, it's OK. Somebody invented the forward pass because it was legal. Someone invented the flea flicker because it's legal. Look at football now.


from the NFHS rule book on the snap, you decide if it was legal. I think it was and as a coach for over 15 years have used non-traditional snaps on a number of occasions.
ART. 1 . . . A snap is the legal act of passing or handing the ball backward from its position on the ground.
ART. 2 . . . The snap begins when the snapper first moves the ball legally other than in adjustment. In a snap, the movement must be a quick and continuous backward motion of the ball during which the ball immediately leaves the hand(s) of the snapper and touches a back or the ground before it touches an A lineman.
ART. 3 . . . The snap ends when the ball touches the ground or any player.


The offenses job is to score points. They don't do this by erecting artificial rules about sportsmanship and fairplay. The rulebook already exists.

When you invent mental limitations and boundaries before you even try to innovate, you limit yourself and your team.

For an example, google A-11. Read about how great coaching reintroduced competition to high school football, and then read about how coaches don't want to innovate defensive sets to stop it, they just want to make it illegal.


This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. That is the way it's done!

F. Thomas

A variation of this happened when the Browns beat the Pats a few weeks ago:

Their QB (Colt McCoy) is near the sideline asking about the play when the ball is snapped to further confuse the defense. Note the ball carrier actually hiding behind the standing lineman... hilarious.


I have no clue about the legality of the play, not being familiar with any US football codes, but in my opinion, if the play were legal, the defence team was outsmarted. Their goal is to stop the other team from scoring and they failed miserably. "Tricks" in this game are called "strategies" at higher levels.

My only question is: If the play had been illegal and the defence team had reacted out of instinct to stop the play, as happens in many fast moving ball sports, would they have been penalised? And would this potential sanction have been large enough to stop them from instinctively stopping the play again?


Why are so many saying this is sad or wrong because "the coach came up with the play."

I'm pretty sure the coach designs the screen pass and the quarterback draw as well.

Would it have been better as a reverse that faked everyone out? Or as the old fumbleruski?

That's what coaches do. They figure out, within the rules, how to get their team of 13 year old kids to beat the other group of 13 year old kids.

Better yet, let's talk about this "economically."

There was investment of time - a scarce resource for middle schools who can only practice so much. This play took some time to practice. It was well rehearsed. 9 players had to be still. The quarterback had to act it out perfectly. The team had to give up valuable reps on offense in practice to pull this off. The coach had to spend time thinking about it, reading the rules to make sure he wouldn't be penalized, etc.

They invested, and it paid off. Perhaps it was an all-or-nothing investment.

My guess is everyone on both sides learned a lot from this.



First off I would not mind if my defense got a penalty if in a dead ball situation they thought it was a live situation.

Second I would simply tell my defense to line up and if the ball is moved/picked up then go kill the guy with the ball.

fast marty

maybe it's legal, but is it right? like short-selling. it's legal. but is it right to profit on misfortune? we say we live in a christian society. we say the majority of americans consider themselves "religious." judging from many posters here, i'd say that was true in name only. how about doing "the right thing?" is that such an alien concept?

Fred C. Dobbs

I can see injury stemming from this unsportsmanlike play. I would tell my kid or my team's safeties or linebackers (if I coached) to lay a hit on any quarterback that got off center.

Maverick @

I agree with NPR sports commentator Frank Deford, "Just because it's legal, that doesn't make it right -- especially when an adult coach puts one over on the kids. Such trick plays are many things, but they're not good sportsmanship." See NPR, Trickery On The Football Field: Like Child Abuse?

Do they teach their kids to lie and cheat? I think the play was the same, and I am surprised that they have posted it on the school's website.

And not a new name for the team -- the Driscoll Middle School Cheaters.


Football is a game. Games are test-tube versions of life. Sometimes the rules get bent or the opposition does surprising things in life. Learning to expect the unexpected, learning about innovative thinking, learning to stay alert to deception: these are all valuable life lessons.
For the soccer fan who thinks soccer is the better sport for avoiding brain injury, recent studies have shown that children who play soccer have the highest rate of brain lesions of all organized sports - because it's the only sport where you use your head to hit the ball.


Everyone stop being so self-righteous and just enjoy the creativity of the play. Is it cheap? Perhaps, but in sports you get away with what you can. If you're not cheating, you're not trying.

I give props to the QB for pulling it off, he strolled confidently which utterly confused the defense, until he ran like the wind to get that TD. As for everyone clamoring that it was an illegal snap, a false start,'s middle school football. The referees are calling the rules much more loosely than they would in higher levels. It was a great ruse that's enjoyable to watch, stop overthinking it.


I'm always reminded of the movie Semi-Pro when you have unorthodox plays that generate successful outcomes e.g. This play, Sean Avery's screening techniques in hockey, 'teleporting' by subbing at one end of the bench and replacing from the far end, etc. I just appreciate it for what it is, a clever play that paid off - though I pity the next QB that tries it against a team that watched this YouTube video... Crunch


When I saw the video several days ago, I admired everything about the play. Now I can't help thinking of other things -- like divvying up toxic mortgages into financial instruments, then betting against them -- that are technically legal but unsporting.


As a middle school coach, winning simply is *not* the bottom line. You coach them well, you put them in place to win, and you help them to do so, but middle school coaches are not there to get wins, they are there to teach (you have to have full teaching certification and teach X number of classes to coach). As a coach, I see my job is to teach them the game and make them better young men. We always have winning records, but a coach who teaches his players to play this way deserves to be beaten about the head and face with various metal objects, in my opinion. These are 7th and 8th graders, not HS, college, or pro athletes.